How Heavy Metals Impact Alzheimer’s Risk and Progression

June 11, 2024


by: Ryan Basiorka


Categories: Uncategorized

Home / Blog / How Heavy Metals Impact Alzheimer’s Risk and Progression

Heavy metals, despite their often-negative reputation, are naturally occurring elements that play crucial roles in maintaining health and supporting various bodily functions. Essential heavy metals, such as copper, zinc, iron, and manganese, are vital in trace amounts but can become toxic when accumulated excessively due to environmental and lifestyle exposures. Understanding the balance between beneficial and harmful levels of heavy metals is essential for maintaining optimal health and preventing serious health consequences, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This article will review the 3 key areas:

  1. Heavy metals effects on the body
  2. The AMBAR study shows promise for those with Alzheimer’s Disease
  3. The PlasmaXchagen protocol to reduce heavy metals

Heavy Metal Effects on Your Body

Excessive exposure to heavy metals can have serious consequences, but low, repeated exposure over years or decades can often go unnoticed. Over time, this cumulative effect can lead to harmful outcomes, particularly in the brain. Several heavy metals, including aluminum, have been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  

Heavy metals can enter the body 3 different ways: 

  1. Ingestion: Contaminated food and water are common sources. For example, fish can contain high levels of mercury, and produce can absorb arsenic from soil. 
  2. Inhalation: Airborne particles from industrial emissions, vehicle exhaust, or cigarette smoke can be inhaled, accumulating metals like lead and cadmium in the lungs. 
  3. Direct Contact: Some metals can be absorbed through the skin, mainly if they come into contact with broken skin or in a soluble form. 


It is crucial to maintain trace amounts of certain heavy metals for optimal health. Still, excessive exposure to these metals can lead to toxicity and have serious consequences: 

  • Neurotoxicity: Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium can disrupt neurological functions, leading to cognitive deficits, developmental delays in children, and neurodegenerative diseases in adults. 
  • Kidney Damage: Metals like cadmium and mercury can accumulate in the kidneys, impairing their function and leading to renal disease. 
  • Liver Damage: Arsenic and other heavy metals can cause liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. 
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Exposure to heavy metals like lead can increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease. 
  • Immune System Suppression: Metals such as arsenic can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections. 
human brain, in two halves: healthy and Alzheimer's disease. Healthy neuron and neuron with amyloid plaques. in comparison

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by memory loss, cognitive decline, and behavioral changes, caused by the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and tau protein in the brain. This buildup triggers neuronal damage. Heavy metals may contribute to AD by disrupting neuronal function and increasing oxidative stress and inflammation, which promotes the accumulation of amyloid-beta and tau proteins and accelerates the neurodegenerative process.


  • Aluminum: Studies have found that levels of aluminum in drinking water in excess of 0.1 mg per day were associated with a doubling of dementia and three times increase in the risk of AD.  
  • Copper: High levels of copper have been found in the brains of AD patients. Copper can stimulate the production of amyloid-beta (Aβ) oligomers and hydrogen peroxide, leading to oxidative stress and tau pathology. 
  • Manganese: Elevated manganese levels are associated with increased Aβ plaque deposition and tau phosphorylation. Manganese also disrupts mitochondrial function, exacerbating oxidative stress. 
  • Zinc: While essential for brain function, excess zinc can precipitate Aβ into plaques. Disruption of zinc homeostasis is linked to neurological disorders, including AD. 
  • Lead: Long-term lead exposure, especially during childhood, is associated with cognitive impairment and brain damage. Lead exposure increases Aβ accumulation and enhances tau phosphorylation. 
  • Mercury: Elevated mercury levels have been found in the blood and brain tissue of AD patients, contributing to memory loss and dementia. 
  • Cadmium: Cadmium can cross the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the brain, promoting Aβ plaque aggregation and tau pathology. 

The AMBAR Research Study

In August 2022, a landmark study published in GeroScience, known as the Alzheimer’s Management by Albumin Replacement (AMBAR) study, grabbed the attention of longevity researchers, clinicians, and millions of aging adults. This study demonstrated that repeated rounds of Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE) significantly reversed aging biomarkers. These biomarkers, which measure cancer, inflammation, oxidation, Alzheimer’s disease, and the immune system, reverted to a significantly younger and healthier profile.

The AMBAR study specifically explored the effects of TPE on Alzheimer’s disease by replacing a patient’s plasma with albumin, effectively removing accumulated heavy metals in the discarded plasma.

The study included 18 plasma exchange sessions; initial intensive sessions, and maintenance sessions They found that plasma exchange may help reduce the burden of heavy metals and other toxins, potentially offering a new treatment modality for AD patients. 

Plasma Exchange to Remove Heavy Metals

In addition to studies like AMBAR, we at MDLifespan have been conducting our own research. Our research aims to determine whether our plasma exchange protocol, which we call PlasmaXchange, can effectively remove accumulated toxins, including heavy metals, from the body. Participants received either three or five plasma exchange sessions, each spaced one month apart. We further divided the participants, providing some with a daily supplement to boost the body’s natural detox processes.   

To evaluate the efficiency of plasma exchange, we conducted lab tests before the onset of treatment and at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and 6 months following the final session. The preliminary results are encouraging, showing a reduction in the participants’ total toxin burden, specifically in heavy metal accumulation. Most notably, the results showed a 100% decrease in aluminum after treatment.  

The degree of heavy metal removal we have observed from our protocol is extremely difficult to achieve with current detox methods (chelation and sauna use). We also notice that plasma exchange combined with supplement and lifestyle modifications keeps individuals’ total toxin burden low even six months after their last session.  

This is exciting because it suggests a new protocol possibility for patients with high toxin burdens or those at high risk of developing dementia, offering a potential method to slow the onset or possibly prevent it. Our research is still in its early stages and not yet definitive, but the results are very promising. 

Excessive exposure to heavy metals poses significant health risks, including the potential to contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Understanding the sources of exposure and the mechanism of toxicity is crucial for developing effective interventions.  

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